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Mom: Hopeful signs seen in Jahi McMath, teen deemed brain dead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The mother of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after suffering complications from sleep apnea surgery said she has seen changes in her daughter's condition that give her hope.

Doctors have declared Jahi McMath brain dead, and medical experts say she cannot be revived.

However, the girl's mother, Nailah Winkfield, said in a letter posted Wednesday on Facebook and Twitter that she believes her daughter is doing better since she was removed from Children's Hospital Oakland last month and taken to an undisclosed facility.

"Despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that, I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children's Hospital and I see changes that give me hope," Winkfield said in the letter.

She didn't give details of Jahi's condition or disclose her location. Jahi's family has said the girl has been fitted with feeding and breathing tubes while remaining on a ventilator.

Jahi underwent tonsil surgery on Dec. 9 and began bleeding heavily before going into cardiac arrest. Doctors declared her brain dead on Dec. 12 based on exams and tests showing no blood flow or electrical activity in her cerebrum or the brain stem that controls breathing.

Winkfield has refused to believe Jahi is dead and went to court to prevent the hospital from taking her daughter off a ventilator.

Medical experts have said a ventilator won't work indefinitely for Jahi and caring for a patient whom three doctors have said is legally dead is likely to be challenging.

The bodies of brain-dead patients kept on ventilators gradually deteriorate, eventually causing blood pressure to plummet and the heart to stop, said Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has no role in Jahi's care. The process usually takes only days but can sometimes continue for months, medical experts say.

In her letter, Winkfield also expressed gratitude for the emotional and financial support she has received from people around the world.

"If I had it my way, I would say thank you to each and every person in their native language so they could understand how much I appreciate them for all their support and, most importantly, prayers," Winkfield wrote.

Join the discussion

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mbrheljr February 21 2014 at 7:06 AM

This poor, poor woman.

While I wholeheartedly respect her dedication to her daughter, I hope she isn't deluding herself.

One of the reasons we rely on professionals, aside from their training and experience, is their objectivity.

That age old expression "physician heal thyself" doesn't apply here...

Flag Reply +8 rate up
lilly295 February 21 2014 at 4:20 AM

she is only alive that is putting it loosely by a breathing tube. I guess the mother has far more knowledge than medical doctors, I think not. Let it go. Also, who is paying for this?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
ASHA'ARA SHALAM! February 21 2014 at 3:10 AM

Yes Yes Yes…I too am praying for you and your daughter's speedy recovery. The Lord Bless and Keep You and Jahi!

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lu25lu February 20 2014 at 6:15 PM

This writer has the surgery wrong. It was a tonsillectomy.

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1 reply
Jim lu25lu February 20 2014 at 6:20 PM

tonsillectomies are often performed for sleep apnea in children

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napachiefs February 21 2014 at 3:03 AM

Hello Nancy,
Wishing you well, I stand behind you:

Flag Reply +1 rate up
marion February 21 2014 at 2:31 AM

God, heal her now,
let this be a miracle that others may see this and come to you, in Jesus name. Amen

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1 reply
pianomanjames marion February 21 2014 at 4:45 AM

God did it to her just to torment his followers. Your God is so great

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
lneslusan pianomanjames February 21 2014 at 7:54 AM

God did nothing to her.This was the hand of man.

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Nancy February 21 2014 at 2:11 AM

Miracles are received from God and nothing is beyond His power, even three doctors who believe they know it all. If Jahi's mother wants to give her every last chance for healing, who are we to tell her no? How dare we judge? And if Jahi eventually passes away, I don't believe this mother will have one second of regret for having fought this fight for her child. God bless this family and may they receive a miracle.

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2 replies
marion Nancy February 21 2014 at 2:33 AM


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1 reply
Judy marion February 21 2014 at 2:54 AM

Double Amen

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prescottvalley6 Nancy February 21 2014 at 3:01 AM

Thank you Nancy

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thomcit February 21 2014 at 2:07 AM

C'mon, everyone. Just once, let's drop the politics and the bickering. This is a human tragedy. America hasn't yet lost her humanity (at least I hope not). This beautiful young girl will never be able regain hers. But, we still possess the empathy and other qualities that make us uniquely human. At least that is something we all still have in common. Let's not lose that.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
johnraasch1 February 21 2014 at 2:00 AM

I pray for a miracle for this poor girl what ever gods highest wish, so sad to hear this.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
gabriel9222009 February 21 2014 at 1:13 AM

I'm so sorry that this has happened to your little girl. She is beautiful. I can understand as a mother how hard this moment in your life must be. I send prayers for you and your precious little girl that you can have peace and that your daughter have peace.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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